PFAS and private wells: 5 key findings from our investigation

Studies show that exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — “forever chemicals” that may be linked to a few kinds of cancer, thyroid dysfunction, reproductive harm and other health concerns — have contaminated private wells across 14 states, including Ohio.

A Dayton Daily News investigation found that recent testing in Montgomery County shows PFAS in some area wells, but resources are limited for homeowners who have PFAS in their drinking water.

Here are five key findings in our reporting:

  1. Butler Twp. and Montgomery County partnered to test private wells in one area near the Dayton International Airport after PFAS was detected at Aullwood Farm among the highest levels in the state. They have spent more than $500,000 in federal COVID relief funds to test 155 wells, finding 68 contained some level of detectable PFAS.
  2. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in a study published last year found that PFAS contaminated groundwater in at least 14 different states, including Ohio. The study also found PFAS in 20% of private wells and nearly 60% of public water systems in the studied region.
  3. Other areas surrounding public water systems that have tested high for levels of PFAS, such as Wright Patterson Air Force Base’s water system — where PFAS was detected at levels more than twice what was measured at Aullwood — don’t have plans to offer testing for private wells. There are hundreds of private wells in these areas, and a test can run homeowners $600 to $1,000.
  4. Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County said the region’s health agency is monitoring what is happening at the state and federal levels with PFAS limits, but it is not running its own studies specifically related to the health impacts of PFAS exposure. These kinds of studies, the health agency said, are complicated by the wide use of PFAS in everyday products.
  5. The Miami Valley is serving as a starting point for a state-led study of the origins of PFAS “forever” chemicals in Ohio’s water bodies, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

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